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NZ Post Wants To Get Into Providing Government Services

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Maggie Tait of NZPA

Wellington, Oct 22 NZPA - NZ Post is urging the Government to let it get into delivering services, such as driver licensing, saying it would be cheaper and more convenient for the public.

NZ Post acting chief executive Sam Knowles, who also heads Kiwibank, told MPs at the commerce select committee that the state owned company could do a lot more and charge the public less.

It would be more convenient for the public to pay fines, pay tax, get passports, get drivers' licences and register births and marriages at post shops than now.

Chairman Jim Bolger supported the idea and said there were many areas NZ Post could get involved in.

NZ Post lost 7 percent of its volume this year and Mr Bolger said postal services around the world were struggling to cope with the impact of the internet. He said the Government's funding of a roll-out of broadband was not helping.

"That's designed in effect to take more paper out of the system and we deliver paper ... (broadband) is going to get a significant subsidy to get established. That's a competitor to us."

Committee chairwoman Lianne Dalziel said she was supportive of NZ Post getting more business from government departments. She could "feel a select committee recommendation coming on".

After the meeting Mr Knowles told NZPA government services were often provided by postal agencies overseas.

"No one is standing back and saying `how do we lower the cost to New Zealand taxpayers individually of accessing a service'? They are generally saying `how do I lower the cost of delivering it'?"

He said government departments were not incentivised to consider the taxpayer as a customer but it made sense, especially for low income people and people who had difficulty getting transport, that services were available locally.

"I don't think government is customer focused in the wider sense, it's customer focused around a service, but it's not saying `how do we lower the cost to the citizen? How do we make services more accessible? How do we make life better for the people?"

Mr Knowles was hopeful the Government would run with the proposal.

Mr Bolger said, while he was not promoting it for New Zealand, oversees postal services had made changes ranging from fewer delivery days, merging with adjacent countries, and using private capital.

In their Kiwibank capacity, Mr Bolger and Mr Knowles defended a decision to close a Kiwibank outlet in Linwood, Christchurch.

Labour MP David Shearer said the bank's corporate statement of intent promised to serve communities and consult but this did not happen.

The committee was told that the bank told communities when they made a decision but they did not hold meetings, saying that would give the impression the decision might change when it would not.

Postal services remained when bank outlets closed and generally there was another near by.

Mr Bolger said it was unrealistic to expect outlets in very small communities and there was a balance between social and commercial priorities.

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